Judge dismisses racial bias protest in Bill Cosby jury selection

Nick Mcbride
June 3, 2017

The panel that will decide Bill Cosby's fate was finalized Wednesday as lawyers completed a three-day search for 12 jurors and six alternates for the entertainer's upcoming sex-assault trial.

Cosby goes on trial June 5 in suburban Philadelphia.

Bill Cosby, left, arrives with one of his attorneys Angela Agrusa, for the third day of jury selection in his sexual assault case at the Allegheny County Courthouse, Wednesday, May 24, 2017, in Pittsburgh.

Still, Cosby thanked the people of Allegheny County, describing them as "wonderful" when he departed the downtown Pittsburgh court house just after 6 p.m.

"My father is being punished by a society that still believes black men rape white women, but passes off as "boys will be boys" when white men are accused", she said.

Cosby, who has been present in court for all three days of the jury selection, is charged with aggravated indecent assault of Andrea Constand, a former employee of Temple University, at his home outside Philadelphia in 2004.

Cosby has said he does not expect to testify. They will be bused and sequestered in a hotel for the length of the trial, which is expected to last two or three weeks. At times using a cane, Cosby watched jury selection closely this week, conferring often with his defense team.

Defense attorneys sharply accused the Montgomery County District Attorney's office of engaging in the "systematic exclusion of African Americans" from the jury on Tuesday, reports The Washington Post.

Protecting the identity of the 11 jurors selected so far is a major concern at the courthouse. The jury makeup of 17 percent is higher than the 13 percent black population in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. The judge, though, found that prosecutors had other valid reasons to strike two black women from the jury pool earlier this week.

Lawyers hope to get the final regular juror and six alternates from new pool of prospective jurors.

"You might be the second-funniest guy in the room", Cosby's lead lawyer, Brian McMonagle, told his client.

One of them, a white male who was selected Monday as Juror No. 2, was struck Wednesday by Montgomery County Judge Steven O'Neill for "very personal reasons".

Dozens of other women have made similar accusations against Cosby, 79, but the judge is allowing only one of them to testify.

"We believe it is of paramount importance we seat a diverse jury", McMonagle said, adding that it would be a "potential terrible problem" if the jury giving the verdict for the black comedian against accusation from a white woman was racially one-sided. More than 80 percent of Monday's jury pool said they were familiar with the case, and two-thirds said it would be hard to spend several weeks sequestered across the state.

Race has reached the forefront of the Bill Cosby sexual assault trial. One of them, a former Pittsburgh police officer, had been involved in civil suit against the city after she was implicated but ultimately cleared in a timesheet scandal. Prosecutors fought vigorously to keep her off the jury.

Constand was the first of more than 50 women who accused Cosby of sexual misconduct, but this is the only criminal trial Cosby has faced. Two African American jurors were picked as alternates.

Other reports by VgToday

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